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tv   BBC Newsnight  WHUT  December 25, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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>> bbc "newsnight" is presented by kcet los angeles. funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu, newman's own foundation, the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, and union bank. >> union bank has put its global
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expertise to work for a wide range of companies. what can we do for you? >> we are a nation of explorers. we seek new ways of living, of thinking, and of expressing ourselves. we take risks. we learn from experience. and we keep moving forward. that is why we encourage and celebrate the explore in all of us. >> and now, the ec "newsnight." -- bbc "newsnight." >> will 2010 be the year the world divided east and west along religious lines? from threats to burn the koran in a small american state from
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the banning of the barca in france to the protests in muslim states, two special reports. first, from egypt. christmas under attack. his father and mother -- his father and mother believe their daughter was kidnapped. >> look at me. i'm dying inside. jesus christ gave me my daughter. he gave her to me, not to them. >> and from switzerland, the marginal station of muslims in the secular state. >> it is sad when people do not accept muslim women to wear the hijab. >> i will be discussing all this with a christian does look, a leading moslem cleric, and a secular some honest. hello. is the world dividing into a
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muslim middle east and an anti- muslim europe? with ideologies on a collision course, who's to blame, and can we heal the divide before it develops into a monumental clash? we begin with a reminder of some of the flashpoints of the year. plans to build an islamic community center two blocks away from ground zero, the side of the 9/11 attacks, are greeted with fierce opposition. supporters of the project say they aim to build bridges within the space and point out that the u.s. constitution protects the right to religious freedom. opponents call the project aground 0 mosque and say it's built, it would be an insult to the memory of the people who died there. in europe, french lawmakers voted in favor of the bill banning the burqa. supporters say the law liberates
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women who are oppressed and often forced to wear the veil by radical muslim men. france is one of the largest muslim populations in europe, but only around two dozen women wear full body veils -- only around 2000 women wear full body veils. in november, a group linked to al qaeda claimed responsibility for the deaths of 50 christian workers in baghdad, the worst single disaster to hit iraq's christians in modern time. in the same statement, the bombers professed that all christians are legitimate targets. some christian targets and kidnappings have caused many christians to immigrate. a pakistani christian has been sentenced to death for allegedly blasting against islam. the only christian household in the village, her entire family are not targeted an hour on the run.
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she is a farm worker, and the first woman to be sentenced to hang under pakistan's blasphemy laws. on the 11th of december, iraqi- born british residents died in a suicide bomb attempt in sweden. hailed as a mortar on islamic websites, his aim was to punish sweden and the west for sending troops to afghanistan and for allowing the publication of a cartoon insulting the prophet mohammad in a swedish newspaper in 2007. and the english defense minister has raised up -- recanted the invitation of a speaker. he leads a small cognition in florida, and he drew criticism when he threatened to burn a copy of the crown on september 11 of this year. violent clashes between muslims and christians in egypt last month over the building of an
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unauthorized church have again highlighted the delicate relations between the country's two main religious groups. egypt is overwhelmingly muslim. the egyptian constitution guarantees equality for all, but some christians say their community is increasingly beleaguered and the young christian women are being lured or kidnapped and forced marriages with muslim men. we go to cairo to find out what the cops are afraid of. >> christmas in cairo looks surprisingly like christmas in the west. good business selling imported decorations. but they no longer have a tree at home. they cannot bear to. their daughter mary disappeared. >> at christmas, she was the one that used to decorate the tree. she used to be about the
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presence. for her, christmas was a big thing. one summer night three years ago, when mary was 19, she went out for a pizza with friends and never came home. the next thing they knew, she was married to an older muslim men. they say she has never met before. they are sure she was forcibly converted. but they say the state will not investigate, and officials may even support what happened because it has brought another sold to islam. >> someone from state security set once the issue is legitimized, you will be able to see your daughter. i asked him what he meant. he said when she has a baby. what he meant was that once she has a child, she would not be able to leave. she would be trapped for ever. >> look at me. i'm dying inside.
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jesus christ gave me my daughter. he gave her to me, not to them. >> in three years, they have seen their daughter just once. coptic christianity in egypt is a face much older than islam, but many followers feel increasingly beleaguered and -- in an overwhelmingly muslim society. >> the government is to blame because education is islamic. they forced children to memorize the crown. the media imposes islamic ideas and traditions, and if a muslim man harasses a christian girl and she reports it had a police station, no action will be taken. the police broke even harass her themselves. -- the police will even harass her themselves. >> the congregants believe the
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state turns a blind eye to christian girls who are kidnapped or lured into muslim marriages. monica, not her real name, too scared to show her face, says it happened to her three years ago after she was tricked. >> on the 17th of august, they declared me a muslim. a couple of days later, and marriage contract was drawn up in a car. i refused to sign or give a thumb print. i was taken to a flat. one of the men there, a sheikh tied me up and -- >> she cannot bring herself to say that she was raped, but she describes the consequence. >> they took me to the hospital as i was bleeding severely. >> the church has built new lives for scores of young women like monica. it believes that victims of a
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well-founded campaign by shadowy muslim groups to bring -- bring girls to islam. attempts to investigate usually lead to a wall of silence or denial. alleged victims say they are afraid to confront or name their betrayers. some stories probably hide a shameful romance between a christian girl and a muslim boy, but all the alleged victims are now trapped because regardless of why a christian left his or her face, the state makes it almost impossible for them to return. conversion to islam is easy, but thousands of egyptians who converted to christianity or reverted to it are refused to register as christians on their id cards, where religion must be stated. and that can ruin a life. >> i cannot go to any government office because my papers say i'm still a muslim. that means i cannot marry a
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christian like myself because i would not be able to register the marriage, and if i had children, i would not be allowed to register them as christians either. >> rubbish is the stock in trade of many of monica's fellow confidants, sorting and recycling it is an overwhelmingly christian occupation. not all cops are at the bottom of the social heap, but very few have top jobs at institutions. many say that is because of official discrimination. >> the egyptian state has no love for radical islamic groups. it cracks down hard on the muslim brotherhood to prevent it winning seats in the recent elections. it is afraid of sectarian violence, but with religious passions growing in society, the government seems unable or unwilling to fully protect the christian minority. the state denies any discrimination but says the official connivance and forced
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marriage is very rare and is punished. the constitution guarantees that all citizens are equal, and government supporters say that that is not contradicted by another clause that makes islamic sharia the main source of all war. >> when over 90% of the population, it is an acknowledgment of the facts in the society, but at the same time, as i mentioned again and again, it should not be seen as some sort of discrimination against any particular faith. >> may be the face itself does not initiate islamization, but to keep its eyes shut from the islamic opposition trend -- islamization trend.
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>> last month, police fired live ammunition to disperse christians protesting at the demolition of an unsanctioned church. two were killed. it makes it much harder to build a church then a mosque, although the government says that will eventually change. cops who still worship in the language of egypt, are fiercely patriotic, but to the egyptian without being muslim gets ever harder. >> the people of switzerland last year banned the building of minarets on mosques in their countries. supporters of the move claim they are a sign of islam is asian. opponents say the ban discriminates and that the move has stirred hatred. >> with the alps, the lakes, and the, uh, lake geneva is one of
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europe's comfortable locations. but the court can be overlooked. they need help. they get it every monday at the islamic centers and the model of integration. you do not have to be muslim to come here, and half the staff behind the handouts are christian, so they are well placed to observe switzerland's muslim population. we are there as news of a suicide bomber in sweden is still fresh. >> i think that all of the muslims will suffer. some of these people, they did not understand the muslim people. >> and that is getting worse? >> yes. >> it is a year since this was decided there would be no more mosques like geneva's. in a national referendum, more than 57% voted to ban minarets, the towers from which weddings, when permitted, make the call to prayer. the colorado incident has always
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been forbidden in switzerland. the swiss vote to ban minaret's has opened up some of the divisions. there is a question of political and religious freedom, nationalism and intolerance, and western europe's attitude to end the era of islam. the swiss government was dismayed, believing the minarets vote violates the right to religious worship, but it has to live with what one member called the tyranny of the majority. the man behind the referendum was of the right-wing people's party. he says they have never been so popular since coming up with a tactic to oppose islam. >> we have a problem with islam. we cannot understand how so many people would vote for a minaret ban if we would not have a problem with the islamicization of civil society in your -- in europe. >> an online video game, "should
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the mosque's" appeared on his website. he said he found it funny. he also denies the minaret ban is discriminatory. >> you are seeing no new churches should be built in switzerland as well? >> there is no need to build new churches because they have a problem to fill the old ones. >> well, new churches are built, as you probably know. there are no new churches built in switzerland? that is not true. >> it is a faith which is comfortable with our laws and our democracy. >> i have not noticed, but in the christmas market, karoline believes she is attracting stairs. brought up as a typical swiss heidi, normally president -- protestant but secular, she now wears a hijab. with religious symbols banned from the classroom, she has been unable to complete her teaching degree. she says that is unfair.
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>> it is absolutely clear that it is a dress code, and part of a religion, and it is not a religious symbol. a religious symbol would be a cross, crescent moon -- the muslim women -- not all muslim women wear it. most do not. >> probably they are not as faithful as others are, or they practiced islam in another way. but i think it is sad when people do not accept muslim women to wear the hijab and looked scornfully at her or insult her. >> has that happened to you? >> yes, that happen in deed. >> every muslim you speak to is appalled by the minaret ban, but they recognize those behind it are simply playing on the fears of non-muslims that already exist. indeed, many muslims themselves share those fears of fundamental islamist or of immigrants from very conservative backgrounds to come to switzerland and have
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some very enviable ideas. >> she and her family are among the 4% of swiss citizens who are muslim. 2/3 of them from the balkans in germany. the product of an immigration wave over the last 30 years. a senior academics as attitudes such as albanians views on forced marriage, are shaped by background, not religion. >> according to my research, it will not make any difference if we're talking about a christian family or a muslim family. >> it is because they are from albanian culture? >> albanian culture from smaller area. because albanians coming from urban areas will behave differently if they have a higher education level. >> another letter directed towards us actually saying that we are terrorists. >> going for the pros, hate mail. it has been sent to his islamic center by people who believe he says wrongly that his organization wants sharia law.
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he says muslims are the latest in a line of scapegoats. in the 1970's, suisse italians were the targets. >> they said that these italians were trying to establish a parallel society, not sitting with them, not learning the language in the right way, eating spaghetti and pizza and all of this stuff. >> and that worked itself out in the end. >> today, we heard the same with the turks. it is simply the same. and if we go further back to the 19th century, we see exactly the same pattern with the jews. >> in switzerland, you see the national flag with its middle- aged christian cross almost everywhere. here it is just across from the small new mosque. a forlorn wooden prop marks where the minaret was supposed to be until the ban. its axis, a triumph for the vote, a disparaging slide for muslims.
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>> you have heard the phrase "the tyranny of the majority"? >> no, yes. i know this concept of democracy, and i will fight it. >> believes that is disingenuous. she says the minaret ban is a provocation. >> but the far right will say that old-time islam's are ok. it is the conservatives they do not like. >> then i would say you'd better talk about the problems in a differentiated way and look for solutions, and solution will not come by fear. >> and banning minaret's? >> i could live without a minaret, but i think it is a discrimination. >> so you would want church steeples band as well? >> [laughter] . no. i think those are beautiful. they should be allowed. >> muslim organizations are starting a campaign to reverse the minaret then. those behind the ban say they have not got a hold. >> i'm joined by the former
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bishop of rochester, the sheikh of the muslim council of great britain, and some from the national secular society. coming to us, the idea in the swiss example of a mirror and of their attitude of one or the other. >> i think what some say about the swiss minaret vote is that it expresses -- there is an element of racism there, clearly, but it is not just that. it is also like the burqa ban in france, which i'm not in favor of, but it expresses an anxiety about religious symbols and the intrusion of religion back into public life. what you have to remember is that the men sitting around this table, with the exception of me, they are all men -- are not representative of the general population because most of us do not go the church. we do not go to the mosque. we do not go to the synagogue. we are indifferent to religion, and we do not like it being
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forced on us. >> do you think the lack of understanding leads to fear? and i guess, it is not just lack of understanding. -- >> yes, and it is not just lack of understanding. as competition theory there are some where christianity is the main religion or islam is the main religion, and they do not want to lose their access to power. >> what about the idea that women are the ones who tend to be the victims and any expression on either side are problems that come to the women? >> yes, and if you look at what happened in egypt, women began to stop wearing the veil in the 1920's, and it is alarming when you go because there are almost no women who are not wearing the veil. >> i do not believe the two religions cannot live together, despite one being in a power position. looking at the history of islam, christianity has had an
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existence in continuity throughout -- >> not necessarily in democracy, but in dictatorship. dothat if you look at jordan, fr instance, with the christian muslim pilgrimage group, we were told that the car broke -- parliament there is designed through proportional representation, and by virtue of percentage of christians, they should have had only eight seats in parliament. they have 16. >> [no audi[unintelligible] >> in history, all totalitarianism has arisen out a secular ideology, not religion. in the 20th-century, national socialism, stalinism, the cultural revolution, even saddam hussein's fascism. what i'm saying is the secularity is also a power
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system. it may or may not be patriarchal. i think on the whole, it has been very patriarchal, but it is a power system and should not be given a privileged position. >> but what about the idea that the failure here is essentially with the men around this table? because you are the leaders in your community and should be the ones who are actually stepping up to the plate and doing more. >> i totally agree. i think we have all failed here. it is very important to come back to our common element, our humanity, and what do human beings want to do? my son, what does he do? he says, "dad, look at that." he wants to share. we share, but we share our differences. >> do you think multiculturalism is a problem? >> i think secularism is a problem. i think having many cultures under the same culture is great, fine. having difficulties together, with happily. that is a great thing to.
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>> but communities do not live happily, and what we see increasingly is in areas of the united kingdom are areas that communities do not interact and increasingly where communities say -- stay entirely secular. >> we need good leadership. we need to get leaders in touch with people's amenities that can collect it to connect with other people's humanity. we always talk about commonality, but it will bring us together anyway. let's talk about the differences because those are the things causing the fears. if we talk about them, express them in a human way, then there will not be fierce and more. >> why allow multiculturalism to exist where people are essentially separated -- >> i think multiculturalism has created the problem of segregation of communities, people not talking to one another, of being inward looking. we have all failed, as i just
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said, but the point is that in britain, particularly, it is the judeo-christian heritage, the bible, which provides a way of welcoming people, of being hospitable. and of treating the stranger as yourself. that should have been the basis for constructing an inclusive society. >> but you say it is worse now. do you think it goes on be in worse? what is the next downward step? >> we need to begin to examine very carefully how we are representing each other. the stereotyping of muslims, demonization. i mean, where is this going to end? without drawing parallels with the 1930's and the holocaust, but you can see how the nazis began to demonize a community to such a level where they could be described as rats from the sewers and could be exterminated, which led to a terrible holocaust. i'm not suggesting that --
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>> [unintelligible] >> i would be strongly against any such attempt, but again, the whole thing goes back to affirming people's fundamental freedom. >> the funny thing is you have men who have benefited from multiculturalism because they mostly become human community leaders -- could i continue? what they have done -- these people are turning themselves into victims. what about the women in their communities who are not allowed to learn english and who are forced into marriage is against their will, who cannot go out to work? >> [unintelligible] >> at that point, we will have to leave it here. thank you all very much. that is all for this week. from all of us, goodbye. >> hello and welcome. >> see the news unfold. get the top stories from around
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the globe, and click to play video reports. go to bbc.com/news to experience the expert reporting of "bbc world news" online. >> funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, still vermont and honolulu, newman's own foundation, the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, and union bank. >> union bank has put its financial strength to work for a wide range of companies, from small businesses to major corporations. what can we do for you? what can we do for you?
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